An awkward conversation prompts a sudden change of perspective in this short story from Etgar Keret, translated by Jessica Cohen
Five minutes after I finish the conference call, Rinat comes over and says she wants to talk. I tell her sure. It’s good to talk. I’m still on an adrenaline rush from the call. I was very uncertain going in, but my presentation was flawless – even Giora was supportive and said that as far as he was concerned, we were good to go.
Rinat and I sit down in the kitchen. We usually have these talks in the living room, but the cleaner is here today and he’s mopping the floors. Rinat gives me a sad look, which I find somewhat reassuring. If it had been an angry look, I would have known I was about to get raked over the coals, but a sad look could just be a fight with one of her sanctimonious sisters, or an update on some distant relative who had shingles.
“Okay,” I say, in my most accepting voice, “what did you want to talk about?”
I’m a little hurt that she didn’t ask how my presentation went. She knows I’ve been preparing it for two weeks. But I don’t want to fight, I just want to get through this conversation, have her tell me how Uncle Shmil from the kibbutz had another heart attack, or that she had some bloodwork done and it turns out she’s anemic, and then we’ll move on. But she sits quietly for a moment, and then she says she wants Nigel to be part of the conversation. I tell her fine. My attitude is: I’m going to agree with anything she says. Although it does seem a little weird that she wants our Nigerian cleaner to join in.